December 26, 2015

The Christmas Truce

The Christmas Truce was a series of unofficial ceasefires along the Western Front around Christmas 1914; roughly 100,000 British and German troops were involved in the unofficial cessations.

In the week leading up to the Christmas holiday, German and British soldiers crossed trenches to talk, exchanging seasonal greetings. In areas, men from both sides ventured into no man’s land on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to mingle and exchange food and souvenirs. This truce did not happen everywhere, as fighting continued in some sectors, while in others the sides settled on little more than arrangements to recover bodies.

This unofficial ‘truce’ was not reported on right away; in fact, many newspapers did not report on it until one week after.  the Toronto Globe had the following article published:

From The Globe, Toronto, December 31, 1914, pg. 2

From The Globe, Toronto, December 31, 1914, pg. 2

DESPATCHES ARE COMING THROUGH showing that at various points on the lines on Christmas Day the Germans and British soldiers fraternized, visited the trenches of the enemy, and swapped tobacco, Christmas cards, an no doubt plum pudding.  The informal truce was so generally observed that at one point the British and German soldiers swarmed out in front of their trenches, met in the neutral ground between, and had photographs taken by some German offices.  That sort of snapshot is probably unique in war.

British and German troops meeting in No-Mans's Land during the unofficial truce.  From the collection of the Imperial War Museums.

British and German troops meeting in No-Mans’s Land during the unofficial truce. From the collection of the Imperial War Museums.

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